Consequently among the ancient Germans the conception of a grove was identified with that of a temple.Among the Greeks, also, the worship of trees seems to be indicated by the word for temple, naos , which according to some authorities originally signified "tree" or "tree trunk".This theory suffers, however, from the fatal uncertainty as to the date the day of dedication fell on.Moreover, the instances in which it has lately been possible to determine the unknown god occupying a temple of known position, so as to test the correctness of this hypothesis, have proven unfavorable to it. At the same time, however, it remains a fact that the orientation of the temple was universally customary, just as it was later in the case of the Christian church.Among the Remans the precincts of a temple were always quadrangular in ground plan; hence the so-called temple of Vesta, one of the most famous sanctuaries in Rome, being circular in plan, was not strictly a temple, but only an oedes sacra , or sacred building.When the augurs had determined the boundaries of a temple-enclosure, the boundaries could not lawfully be interrupted except at one point, which was to serve as an entrance.They formed a temple property that could not be sold.However, in times of necessity, especially in war, these treasures were often melted down, as were the costly church utensils of the medieval era and of later periods.
Among the equipments of the temple was a massive altar, sacrificial tables, movable heaths for fire, sacrificial utensils and other objects, which were dedicated at the same time as the temple.
The doorkeeper, who permitted visitors to enter the temple at stated times, also guarded the treasures.
The massive altar, as mentioned above, did not stand in the temple but before it.
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The Latin form, templum , from which the English temple is derived, originally signified an uncovered area marked off by boundaries; especially the place marked off by the augurs to be excepted from all profane uses.